PTI mulls advising Riyadh against a deal with Sharifs

Imran Khan’s hurriedly called meeting also resolves to support PAT’s APC

Danish Hussain December 31, 2017

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) on Saturday considered formally approaching Riyadh in a bid to persuade it “to refrain from brokering any underhand deal to bail the Sharif family out of prevailing crises arising out of the ongoing accountability drive against it”.

“Before taking any step, Saudi Arabian government should take into consideration the political ground realities of Pakistan and value wishes of overwhelming majority of Pakistani people,” a source quoted the PTI chief as saying in a meeting of the PTI’s media strategy committee, hurriedly called in Bani Gala.

PTI to resist Sharifs’ ‘backroom’ talks at every level, says Imran

However, he said, the PTI chairman was of the opinion that the party would await the outcome of the meetings between former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and Punjab Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif with Saudi authorities before taking any final decision.

Nawaz Sharif left for Saudi Arabia on Saturday while his younger brother, Shehbaz Sharif, is already in the kingdom along with some senior PML-N leaders.

For some reasons, the PTI chief is convinced that Sharif brothers’ recent visits to Saudi Arabia are in connection with some ‘backroom talks’ aimed to get yet another NRO-type deal for them.

Addressing a press conference on Friday, Khan said: “Shehbaz is in Saudi Arabia making efforts to woo support of royals. I have no doubt that it [purpose of visit] is nothing but another NRO-type deal in the making meant to lessen difficulties of Sharif family over their accountability.” He had said the PTI would resist any such deal at every level and would launch protest movement if such thing happened.

According to a senior PTI leader, Khan believes that recent events endorses the fact that Sharif brothers were engaged in backroom negotiations and any possible deal would adversely impact the ongoing accountability process and the PTI’s political ambitions related to the upcoming general elections.

A handout issued by the party following the Saturday’s meeting read that the senior leadership discussed in detail the possible objectives of the Sharifs’ visit to Saudi Arabia. “Whether it’s Saudi Arabia or the US, this time around Sharifs will not be able to get any deal from anyone,” the statement said.

It said Sharifs were making every possible effort to avoid accountability but now they were left with no other option but to return the looted money of Pakistanis.

'No NRO or safe passage for Sharif and his family'

A senior party leader who attended the meeting said the PML-N was tightlipped over the purpose of Sharif brothers’ visit that showed even they were unaware of motives behind these mysterious trips.

He said Khan was of the opinion that Shehbaz, being the chief minister of a province, was not responsible for foreign affairs, questioning why a special Saudi plane was sent here to transport him to the kingdom.

Departure of deposed PM Nawaz Sharif fortified doubts that ‘some progress has been made by Shehbaz’ requiring elder Sharif’s endorsement, he added.

The strategy committee meeting also discussed overall political situation in the country. It resolved that the PTI would support the Pakistan Awami Tehreek’s All Parties Conference held in Lahore on Saturday and demands made during the conference.

The meeting also discussed ways and means to ensure early merger of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) with Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and government’s delaying tactics in this regard.


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